Recently, I posted a call on the dev blog for WordPress-loving icon designers who wanted to get involved with the open source project and design the new icons for 2.7. In the post I made it clear that the reason we were doing this was because of all the times I’ve had designers ask me how they could contribute to WordPress, since they weren’t able to contribute code.
I got about a dozen responses from clearly capable designers with good portfolios. One of them didn’t use WordPress, but Movable Type. I sent him what I thought was a nice email thanking him for volunteering, but letting him know that since he didn’t appear to use WordPress, we would be choosing from among the current users. He’s since written a blog post indicating that this was a divisive act. I disagree.
I wasn’t looking for the most badass icon designer. If that had been the case, we would have just hired someone outright, as we planned to do originally. The change to going with community volunteers was specifically intended to provide an opportunity for WordPress users to give back to the community and be contributors to the open source project in a way that hasn’t been open to them before. I was in no way implying that this non-WP designer’s work wasn’t good enough.
Substitute “icon design” for “coding a patch that will be used in the application.” The two are meant to be on par. My goal was to make the open source project not so code-specific, but to open up more avenues of involvement with the application. And as with the coding of patches, we generally have the best luck with people who use the application on a regular basis, are already intimately familiar with it, and have a vested interest in its improvement. The point was for the icons to be community generated (there will even be community voting on the completed icon sets), not just designed.
It wasn’t my intention at all to make this designer feel slighted, and I certainly appreciate everyone’s willingness to volunteer. I also didn’t mean for my response to carry any kind of one-platform-to-rule-them-all kind of tone. I’ve used Blogger, Movable Type and WordPress, and I like all of them for different reasons. I have friends who work for each company; I’m not part of the platform wars that sometimes spring up. I just feel that given the reasoning behind going the community volunteer route in this case (which, frankly, does carry some risk compared to simply hiring a professional), it would have been uncool of me to bring in a ringer. Which, given this guy’s experience level and the fact that he uses MT and not WP, he would have been. A ringer, that is. A designated hitter. As I said in my comment on the designer’s blog post, I’m just trying to give the existing WP community a chance to go to bat.
So does that make me a Platformist?